Gatlinburg East KOA Campground in Cosby TN

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For our first camping trip in Pigeon Forge, we chose Gatlinburg East KOA Campground in Cosby, TN.  There were so many options in the area that the selecting one was overwhelming!  We finally chose the KOA because it had excellent TripAdvisor reviews.  It was simple to make reservations online, and the Value Kard fee paid for itself ($30 cost, gives a 10% discount).  

We arrived shortly after the gate closed for the evening, but one of the KOA staff members had already called to confirm our check-in.  She told us to call the office and they’d send someone to open the gate.  At registration, she gave us a parking tag and a gate entry card.  This extra measure of security offers a nice peace of mind, especially after dark.

The same employee checked on our campsite reservation and asked if we’d like a less expensive site.  I was really grateful for her attentiveness.  After seeing the other sites, we probably would have preferred the original booking (which came with a lovely concrete patio area) but her actions were appreciated.

There were many open campsites, leaving the campground feeling spacious and quiet.  We only saw 2 other families with children.  The entire campground is gravel and at a gently sloping incline.  This was not a bike-friendly campground, much to the disappointment of my kids.  They prefer pavement for bike riding.  Even if they would have been able to ride bikes, I’m not sure where they would have had the space.

Our campsite was fairly level but narrow, and we didn’t spend a lot of time sitting outside of it.  The campground is full of established trees, being in the Smoky Mountains, and it helped to keep things shaded.  I noticed that some trailers had their slides partially extended because there wasn’t enough room to fully open them.  If this is an issue for you, be sure to check your site and make sure it suits your needs.

The pool area is very clean and has a large poolside seating area.  No lifeguard is present, so the children were supervised by their parents.  There’s a walkway leading from the pool to the campground restrooms.  The restrooms are immaculate, and have excellent privacy.

Just a few steps from the pool, you’ll find a playground area complete with basketball court and frisbee golf baskets.  The playground is near the entrance; many campers used this as a walking path.  There’s a fenced dog run on the other side of the campground, too.

The campground is about 15 minutes from Gatlinburg, and approximately 30 minutes from the Pigeon Forge area. The drive to Pigeon Forge took us through the Arts & Craft district.  I love that little strip and wish we’d had time to stop along the way.  We found it to be inconvenient to drive out to Pigeon Forge, so we ended up hanging out near The Island most of the time.   On the way back, we enjoyed a lovely dinner at the Magnolia Tree restaurant which is located near the campground.

I’m sure it takes a lot of effort to keep a campground running smoothly, so presumably some guidelines are necessary.  We were given a pamphlet with MANY RULES upon check-in. Our family is pretty quiet and we keep to ourselves, but even I found this to be an excessive list.  We weren’t approached about any problems so I guess we didn’t violate any rules, but sheesh… stressed me out just thinking about it!  There were signs everywhere, plus several were on a table at the camp store just waiting to be posted.

We enjoyed our stay at Gatlinburg East, but I doubt we’ll stay there again. There are so many kid-friendly resort campgrounds in the Gatlinburg area that are calling my name!





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  1. Tami Vollenweider says:

    We used to go camping many years ago! I enjoyed it and maybe we will take our grand kids when they get older! I’m like you,I don’t know if I would go back their again! Too many rules,and couldn’t really enjoy ourselves!!

  2. Wow this campground looks amazing and so pretty. I would love to go camping here thank you for sharing this one.

  3. That looks like a wonderful campground. And a swimming pool.

  4. Thanks for sharing photos and details about your camping experience. It’s nice to have an idea of how big the camping spaces are and how much space kids will have. We have Gatlinburg on a travel list.

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